10.0 Spotlight - Marci Bernholtz

Feb. 13, 2009

Sophomore Marci Bernholtz is the featured gymnast in 10.0 Spotlight, which profiles a member of the UCLA gymnastics squad throughout the season. Bernholtz, a native of Unionville, ON, competed for Canada at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships and won the national uneven bars title in 2007. She was an alternate for the 2004 Olympics. As a freshman at UCLA, she competed mostly on balance beam and recorded a 9.875 on her first collegiate beam routine to win the event at Cal State Fullerton and earn Pac-10 Event Specialist of the Week honors. This season, she has posted season-highs of 9.75 on bars and 9.8 on beam.

You've made great strides this season. To what do you attribute your improvement from last year to this year?
Last year I came in not really knowing what to expect. I had been competing Elite right up until my arrival in late September and didn't really get the chance to take that step back before coming to college. I had a lot of goals for the year but really was not prepared for some of the challenges of training and adapting to a completely new environment. This year, I decided that I wanted to contribute to the team on a variety of levels, and I committed the summer to strengthening my knee and rekindling my passion for gymnastics. I spent a lot of time working on my physical condition and just finding ways to make gymnastics fun. I try to bring that attitude into the gym and inspire my teammates with a hard work ethic and a positive attitude.

Talk about your decision last year to come to UCLA in the fall instead of trying for an Olympic berth.
My decision to come to school instead of staying to try for an Olympicberth actually happened pretty quickly. I had originally planned on staying to train and compete in Canada and start in September 2008 after the Olympics. Miss Val and I had discussed both options of starting in 2008 and 2007, but when the Canadian team did not qualify a full team to Olympics and instead would only send two individuals, I decided it was in my best interest to come to school. It was a difficult decision because I had spent so much time working for the Olympics after being named alternate in 2004, but I feel like everything happens for a reason, and last year was a learning and growing year, and I am so thankful for being a part of the UCLA team.

What were the big factors in choosing UCLA over other schools?
When I came on my recruiting trip, everything just felt right. I knew before I even left the school that this was where I wanted to come. The combination of academics and athletics is like nothing you can receive anywhere else. The campus, community and people are great, and I know I made the right choice.

Coming from Eastern Canada, you probably don't get to go back home too often. Do you often get homesick, or do all the Canadians on the team make it feel like home?
Being far from home can become a challenge at times. I definitely don't have the convenience of going home for the weekend to get my mom to do my laundry, but I still talk to my family and friends at home on a regular basis. I was used to traveling and being away from home, so getting homesick doesn't happen too easily. My teammates and friends do a great job of filling that void also. I always have a place to go for holidays, breaks, or even just a weekend getaway. Now instead of one family, I have lots!

What do you feel is your biggest challenge in training or in competition, and what steps do you take to try to conquer it?
In training, I think my biggest challenge is learning to take minimal turns but make them count. I was so used to training 7 hours a day and spending hours on an event repeating skills over and over that with the limited training times here it was something to get used to. This year I have tried to adopt the Ariana Berlin fast-train technique. Some days I'm really good, but it's still a work in progress.

How did you get started in gymnastics?
Like most gymnasts, I was a very hyper child. I would always bounce around, climb on counters and swing from shower doors. My parents noticed my strength and decided to put me in gymnastics. I started in a recreational class, got picked out by the head coach at the facility I was training at and never looked back.

What was your most memorable gymnastics moment?
My most memorable moment was probably having the meet of my life at Olympic Trials in 2004. I was a little bit of an underdog but just went in and hit some of the best sets I had ever done. I remember feeling like I was on autopilot, not noticing anything else and just enjoying the experience.

You've traveled all over the world for competitions. What was your most memorable trip and most unusual travel moment? Which place would you most like to visit again and why?
My most memorable trip was to 2007 Worlds because it taught me so much, about gymnastics and about life in general. My most unusual trip was to Brazil in 2006. The trip alone took 36 hours between plane delays, missed connections and all the other transportation. Also, it poured the day of competition, and there was a leak in the ceiling and equipment was being moved around in the middle of the meet to avoid getting wet.The place I would most like to visit again is Hawaii. It is so pretty, and the water is amazing!

What are your thoughts about the way the elite code has changed over the past several years and the loss of the 10?
I think the 10.0 scoring system is what gymnastics was known for. Every young gymnast dreamed of scoring a perfect 10 just like Nadia Comaneci, and the new system has changed this ideal. While the thrill factor of gymnastics is still there, it's difficult for spectators to fully grasp the new scoring system

If you could trade places with any member of your team, who would it be and why?
I would trade with Ari. Her positive attitude and ridiculous mental strength never cease to amaze me, and I just want to see what goes on in her head. It would also be really cool to dance like her.

Lightning Round
What movie can you watch over and over without getting sick of it?
Remember the Titans - all day every day

Current favorite song?
'Love Story' by Taylor Swift

Can't-miss TV show?
Grey's Anatomy

What are you addicted to?
Candy, but don't tell Miss Val

Nickname?
Marci-pahnts, Marcella

Best thing about being a Bruin?
Everything

What quote or saying do you live by?
'Everything happens for a reason' and 'You only live once. Live it to the fullest and have no regrets.'

Describe yourself in one word.
Genuine

Describe your team in one word.
Unbreakable

What are your pre-meet superstitions?
I never take off my livestrong bracelet, and I always have to clean my grip bag out before the meet. If you've ever seen it, it's probably a good thing I do.

What kind of new skills are you working on that we haven't seen in competition at UCLA yet?
A gymnast never reveals their secrets. If you want to see, you'll just have to come out to the meets!

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